Terracotta dates back to the 14th Century, when it was originally imported from European countries. The earthenware is a type of ceramic, originally produced by Western and pre-Columbian people, involving a clay base that becomes porous when heated.
The ceramic Terracotta Tile has had a long history in many parts of the world. Many ancient and traditional roofing styles included the more intricate Terracotta work such as the Chinese imperial roof decorations and Western classical architecture.
By 1930 the widespread use of concrete in Modernist architecture largely ended the use of Terracotta, however, the ceramic is garnering more appreciation in recent years.
Compared to other sculpturing techniques, Terracotta is a far simpler and quicker process with accurate duplicating results, while also allowing intricate detailing. Compared to marble and other modern materials, production is not only simpler, but the product is more durable.
Terracotta’s long history not only brings a historical element into modern New York architecture, but it also adds minimal and thoughtful detailing into the home—making it a new, sought-after amenity amongst New Yorkers.
On the Upper West Side, a new condominium is bringing the ceramic to great use through both interior and exterior architecture.
207 West 79th, a new boutique condominium by Anbau, brings the use of Terracotta into play. The building’s exterior is defined by traditional limestone masonry at its base, buff-toned brickwork interspersed with terracotta motifs, and an Art Deco-inspired cornice crown with detailing that pays homage to its neighbors. The building’s immediate neighbor is the Lucerne Hotel, which is a highly ornamental red Terracotta landmark built in 1904.
With exteriors and interiors by Morris Adjmi Architects, 207 West 79th features a limited collection of townhomes with five bedrooms, five bathrooms, and a powder room across two levels. A private terrace boasts a diverse range of shrubs, grasses, and perennials—including flowering dogwood trees—selected for their shade-giving and aromatic qualities. The custom planters and kitchens are faced with Brazilian ipe, a durable and handsome hardwood once used for the Coney Island Boardwalk. The outdoor kitchens with built-in 36-inch stainless steel gas grills, smoked gray granite countertops, and intimate seating areas are ideal for dining and entertaining al fresco.
207 West 79th is a rare opportunity to own a new development home that modernizes the traditional pre-war archetype of the Upper West Side. The open, light-filled rooms flow effortlessly from one to the next, while the fireplace, kitchen, and media room remain natural focal points. A mansion weave parquet pattern meanders from room to room throughout the expansive interiors.
Terracotta is on full display throughout the architecture of this luxury Upper West Side residence. Its use gives additional glam to the new building while also bringing back old New York with its exterior architecture.
The Flatiron building in New York was one of the original buildings that boasted an exterior Terracotta cladding system, which is visibly present through the buildings thoughtful designs.
Modern sky rises erect from Manhattan every year, but as the Terracotta ceramic garners popularity, it is possible to see an influx in its use in years to come.